Author: Amanda

Some Lovely Books for St. Francis’s Feast Day

St. Francis of Assisi’s feast day is October 4th — tomorrow! Here on the Homely Hours, we have a post with the story of St. Francis that we use in our Godly Play program at church. At the bottom of that post are some book recommendations and I wanted to take a moment to share one more with you. Saint Francis and the Animals: A Mother Bird’s Story  I was grateful to receive from Paraclete Press the lovely children’s book Saint Francis and the Animals: A Mother Bird’s Story by Phil Gallery, illustrated by Sibyl MacKenzie. I had seen it online and thought that the illustrations were stunning, so I was excited to have the opportunity to review it. Creative Framing of the Story Gallery shares the story of St. Francis through the eyes of the birds. Apparently, for the birds living around Assisi, the rite of passage from nest to flight means the passing down of the story of St. Francis. I thought this was a fun and creative way to frame the story. Each young bird (Benjamin …

Celebrating St. Michael and All Angels

As we finish up the Autumn Ember Days, we turn our attention to Michaelmas. When we started this site,  I wrote a little post musing on the question “Why the Church Year? and reflected, The church year means that we don’t accidentally exclude a truth or event that is important for the life of our souls. I remember my first Michaelmas, realizing that I didn’t remember the last time I had thought about angels. My imagination needed Michaelmas to remind me that the cosmic realms are densely populated, not empty, with beings who serve the Lord and us. Ever since I first experienced Michaelmas, I’ve connected it with the wisdom of the church year. I’m grateful to remember the reality of angels — intentionally weeding out what is kitschy and cutesy in my imagination. And, I hope that celebrating the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels with my children helps them to associate the angelic realm with all that is glorious, noble, and courageous. Here is what we’ll be doing: Michaelmas Booklet A few years back, …

Family Prayer and Julian of Norwich

This week, my small children have been in vacation fallout mode and it’s made me very thankful to return to our family rhythms of morning and evening prayer.* I set church bells as an alarm on my phone, so ideally, around 9am or so, we gather together. My 3 year old generally fights it (but she fights everything). It’s very normal for her to energetically cry through the first half of our prayers. But it doesn’t matter. This year, I’ve become less easily deflated by my kids’ resistance, knowing that it’s just as vital for us to structure our day with prayer as it is to have regular, healthy meals. The 3 year old resists food as well, but it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t need to eat in order to live. And for me, I’ve come to realize that family prayer isn’t only a matter of parents catechizing our children. It’s not just for them. These times aren’t the “kid version” of the real thing. It’s all the real thing. When we pray together, …

“Life by the Kalendar”

From Spiritual Proficiency, by Martin Thornton: ” ‘The Christian is, in one sense, successively becoming what, in another sense, he already is. He increasingly makes his own the supernatural and eternal life which is the life of God. Hence on the supernatural plane he transcends the separation of past-present-and-future.’ [Mascall] The importance of this theology is that the Church’s year, incorporated in the Kalendar, is of private as well as corporate significance. In practice, life in the Church, and recollection of that life, means life by the Kalendar and we must believe that the little bit of time-space experience we call ‘June the twenty-ninth’ really means something definite to all the saints in heaven and to St. Peter in particular. The Office and Mass on that day, and therefore our private prayer as well, are no bare memorial to one of the Apostles, but the expression of this time-eternal, earth-heaven, nature-grace, link. . . . . . the Church’s Kalendar provides not just a useful means of conducting services in an orderly way, but a practical basis …

Pregnant or Nursing During Lent? Don’t Feel Guilty.

This past week, some of my friends and I were talking about motherhood and Lent. All of them are either nursing or pregnant, and I, for the first time in years, am neither. They were saying, “I feel a little guilty for not fasting during Lent.” And I responded (in many more words): “Don’t feel guilty! I did, too. But now that I’m experiencing Lent without being pregnant or nursing, I won’t feel that way again.” Then they said, “Write a post on this for the Homely Hours!”* And so, I did. Lent calls for sacrificial love through fasting every year. But that can look different, and it ought to look different for those who are are nursing or pregnant. Lenten fasting always comes with the caveat: “Those who are ill, those who are pregnant or nursing, those with strenuous jobs, and young children, etc. are not expected to keep this fast.” Our Mother Church asks us for different sacrifices at different seasons of our life, but she will not burden us with more than …

Quinquagesima

Collect O Lord, who hast taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth; Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee. Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen. Saints and “Blesseds” Monday, March 2: John and Charles Wesley John and Charles Wesley were born in the early 1700s to an Anglican priest and a Puritan mother. They were first called “Methodists” because of their habit of attending Holy Eucharist every Sunday, as opposed to the popular habit of attending three or four times a year. Both ordained as Anglican priests, they set out to reform the English church with a strict “method” of faith and practice, influenced by German pietism. Their message grew so popular with laypeople (and so unpopular with Anglican clergy) that they had to preach in open-air meetings. They always intended a revival within Anglicanism and not to separate, though the …

Lenten Family Prayer (+ Doing Nothing New)

“Given the many layers of meaning in Lent, we won’t grasp all of them in a single year. But imagine if we were to observe Lent every year for the rest of our life — imagine how much we would grow and mature.” This quote is from my priest, Fr. Wayne McNamara. What a thought to keep us from being overwhelmed by options. Lord willing, we have many Lents ahead of us. What does He want us to focus on this year in 2019? The Lenten “triad” of Fasting, Prayer, and Acts of Compassion concentrates our efforts into what really matters as we prepare for Easter. And we can pray for guidance: “O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgement, and light riseth up in darkness for the godly; Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what thou wouldest have us to do, that the Spirit of Wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in thy light we may see light, and in thy straight …

Tending the Garden of Our Hearts

I’m always on the lookout for good family resources to celebrate the church year. So I took the opportunity to review Tending the Garden of Our Hearts: Daily Lenten Meditations for Families by Elissa Bjeletich and Kristina Wenger, receiving a copy from Ancient Faith Publishing in exchange for my honest review. When I expressed interest in the book, I made sure they knew that I’m not Orthodox. But as an Anglican, I welcomed this opportunity to learn more about Great Lent in Orthodoxy. The book consists of daily devotionals that follow and deepen the theme for each Sunday in Great Lent: Forgiveness, Orthodoxy, Prayer, The Cross/Humility, The Ladder of Divine Ascent/Alms-giving, and St. Mary of Egypt. It’s based on the authors’ podcast last year and it’s meant for families with children of all ages to read together. To any Orthodox families that happen to read this blog, I wholeheartedly recommend this book. It’s a resource that strengthens the connection between the home and the church. It will carry you along with the traditions of the …

Teaching Scripture to Our Children

One of the reasons my husband and I came to Anglicanism is because of the reverence in the worship. The glad solemnity of our Anglican liturgy harmonized with our understanding of the Scriptures — humility and the “fear of the Lord”  as part of our response to the love and mercy of Christ. As we became parents, it was important to us to communicate that reverence and glad solemnity to our children. We felt it did a disservice to both Christianity and our children to dumb the faith down, but it can be confusing to have that conviction. So many of the books and products available for children are kitsch-y, cartoon-y, irreverent. I don’t really want my children associating Bible stories with talking vegetables… So, we have been very reticent. Going along with our church, we have invited our children into the fullness of our Christian practice. They attend the liturgy with us from the very beginning, learning the service music and hymns. We try to give them what we believe is the truly beautiful …

Christmas Hymns & Carols (2 per day)

As promised in the Advent Hymns and Carols post, I’ve also compiled a list of Christmas (and Epiphany) Hymns and Carols. It was much more difficult to decide upon these songs — there are so many favorites. So, as with the Advent post, please consider this a first draft, to be improved upon next year. And, as with the Advent post, please tell me if you find mistakes! My rationale was to pair one well known hymn or carol with another that is lesser known throughout Christmastide. My hope is that this list helps us celebrate all twelve days of Christmas (I’m always so thankful at our church, that we get to keep singing our Christmas music together on the First Sunday of Christmas). And, I decided to also throw in some hymns for Epiphany as well. Lastly, please note the lovely carolers by my dear artist friend Michelle Abernathy (you can find her on Facebook and Instagram.)  Wouldn’t her painting make the best Christmas cards? May the Lord bless our Christmastide festivities with His harmony …